28 Mar 2013

Apple and Ginger Buns: Bread Machine Recipe

Fresh from the oven and brushed whilst hot with a sugar glaze
I've had my bread machine for years now, it makes perfect dough or a perfect loaf of bread, except for the annoying hole in the base of the loaf where the paddle comes out. You either love your bread machine or put it at the back of the cupboard for the rainy day that never comes.

The buns in the middle are the best because they are fluffy on all four sides.  Best eaten warm on the day you bake them but we couldn't get through all that lot and I froze the majority which is a shame.  Defrost and reheat gently in the microwave to refresh.

Diced fruits cooked with a minimum of liquid 
Cooled fruit spread over the dough 
The risen dough spirals before baking
Makes: 12

You will need:  2 beaten eggs, 175ml milk, 2 tablespoons room temperature butter, ½ tsp salt, 500g strong white flour, 50g caster sugar, 1¼ tsp fast-action dried yeast.

Filling: 400g cooking apples (peeled, quartered, cored and diced), 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons water, 50g caster sugar, 125g mixed dried fruit, 50g quartered glace cherries, 2 tablespoons ready-chopped glace ginger.

Glaze: 2 tablespoons caster sugar, 4 tablespoons milk.

1. Add the dough ingredients in the order specified in your instruction book.
2. Place the pan into the bread machine.  Shut the lid and set to the dough setting.  Press start.
3. For the filling: place the apples into a saucepan with the lemon juice, water, sugar, dried fruit and half the cherries.  Cover the pan and simmer for 5 minutes or until the apples are starting to soften. Remove the lid and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated and the apples are tender.  Stir in the ginger and leave to cool.
4. When the dough programme has finished, remove the pan from the bread machine, scoop out the dough and knead.  Press out the dough using the fingertips to stretch out into an oblong. Roll out to an oblong measuring 37 x 30cm.
5. Spread the cooled mixture over the dough to within 2cm of the edges.  Roll up starting from one of the longer edges.
6. Cut a slice of dough off both ends and then cut it into 12.  Place the dough spirals onto a greased roasting tin measuring 30 x 20cm.  Cover the dough coils with oiled clingwrap and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
7. Remove the clingwrap and bake in a preheated oven 200ºC for 20-25 minutes or until golden and the centre coils sound hollow when you tap them.  Sprinkle over the remaining chopped cherries.
8. Make the glaze.  Heat together the sugar and milk until the sugar has dissolved.  Boil for 1 minute, watching it very carefully, brush over the hot bread.  Leave in the tin to cool.

Soft fluffy dough

Recipe taken from Bread Machine Easy by Sara Lewis.


27 Mar 2013

Funkin Brazilian Cocktail Mixer: Event

Fabulous Funkin Brazilian cocktails - would you like yours mixed with rum or vodka?
Posting Courtesy of Kitchen Delights London Reporter.

With all this cold weather – a ray of sunshine is always welcome – particularly if it comes in the form of a scrumptious cocktail (we can only keep praying for the sun to shine).

Funkin recently invited Kitchen Delights to a mid-week party for the launch of their brand new cocktail mixer – Funkin Brazilian.

As Brazilian beats played, and Brazilian girls danced in carnival costumes, we were invited with other food bloggers to taste the new Funkin Brazilian mixer.


The mixer is made with a sweet blend of mango, passion fruit and orange as well as guarana seeds for an immediate energy boost – handy to keep the party going. So all you need to do at home is to add a splash or two of white rum or vodka and not stress with any of the prep usually involved in cocktail making. They are also 100% natural, so no added nasties lurk inside such as preservatives, artificial colourings or flavourings.

For all the cocktail know how you need and details of the full range of products including the Funkin Brazilian Cocktail Mixer, please visit www.funkin.co.uk.

A big thanks to Kate for the invitation.

25 Mar 2013

Stellar 3000 Stir Fry Wok - Review


I've been sent a fabulous 28cm enamel coated high gloss non-stick Ruby Red Stellar 3000 Wok to review - also available in black and vanilla.  It has two stay cool easy grip handles, these make it far easier and safer to lift the pan when it is loaded with food.

All you have to do is season the pan with a thin film of vegetable oil and you are ready to go. The wok can go in the oven up to 180°C, which makes this a very versatile pan. The pan is also suitable for all hobs. Washing up is effortless, simply soak in soapy water for a few minutes and wipe, or the pan can be placed in the dishwasher.



All of my pans are stored away in the pan draw, but this wok has taken pride of place and is permanently on top of my hob, not just because it looks great but it's multifunctional too.  I've used the pan for cooking and reheating, any liquid in the pan doesn't evaporate away and you can cook efficiently using only a thin film of oil - the pan is a pleasure to use.

Stellar 3000 is known for quality, dependability and efficiency. Stellar 3000 pans benefit from Teflon Platinum Plus, a Triple Layer non stick coating with a raised textured base for healthier cooking.

There is a Stellar lifetime guarantee, non stick guaranteed for 10 years.

Available from Amazon.



Thank you to Stellar and Pam for another amazing review product.

21 Mar 2013

Nigel Slater's Hot Cross Bread and Butter Pudding

Nigel Slater may not be too thrilled about my little Easter chick but I think he's cute.
I had the last two packs of cinnamon and raisin Hot Cross Buns, a purchase one Sunday from Waitrose on the M6, and just a few miles away from where Nigel was brought up.

Making hot cross buns and then cutting them up for bread and butter pudding, that's just one step too far......they very conveniently come in a pack of four.

A generous handful of sultanas were sprinkled over the buns, the recipe says to sprinkle over peel too - not for us though.  The custard base uses egg yolks instead of whole eggs, a pot of double cream and the equivalent in milk, which makes a glorious custard. I always freeze my left over egg whites for a meringue making session.

The two of us couldn't polish off all this pud by ourselves, it heats up perfectly in the microwave and my husband said it tasted even better the second day, and he should know, because he's a bread and butter pudding expert.

Taken from Nigel Slater - The Kitchen Diaries II - sadly I can't find a link out to the recipe.



I am entering this into Dish of the Month - March 2013. Hosts are Janice at Farmers Girl Kitchen and Sue at A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate.

15 Mar 2013

Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Tart: Recipe


In market towns they have plentiful supplies of purple sprouting broccoli, white sprouting broccoli is worth looking out for too (Nigel Slater has written a helpful article in the Guardian). My greengrocer sells purple sprouting broccoli in a small bundle and it is ridiculously expensive, I had to take a deep breath before handing over my money.

The recipe for this tart is from April 2013 Delicious Magazine, fortunately it only needs a few broccoli spears.  The original recipe uses Wensleydale Cheese and also double cream but I've adapted the recipe, I had a slab of Cheddar cheese and a pot of creme fraiche in the fridge and they worked perfectly.

Adapted recipe.

You will need: 26cm loose based flan tin

few spears of purple sprouting broccoli
2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, finely diced
3 large eggs and 2 yolks, beaten
250ml creme fraiche
150g Cheddar cheese, grated
35g cream cheese

For the pastry:
300g plain flour
145g butter, chilled and cubed
approx 4 tbsp iced water

1. Whiz the flour and butter in a food processor until the consistency of fine breadcrumbs. Add 4 tablespoons of iced water and whiz again until the pastry starts to come together.  Tip out onto a board and form into a ball of dough.  Shape into a round, and cover with cling wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Remove from the fridge and allow to stand for a while, otherwise it will be difficult to roll out the pastry.
2. Preheat the oven to 190ºC.  Roll out the pastry and line the tart tin with pastry, I always use this method from Delia's site How To Bake a Pastry Case.
3. Reduce the oven temperature to 180ºC.
4. Blanch the broccoli spears in salted boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and refresh in ice-cold water.    Drain really well again.
5. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the shallots for 10 minutes to soften.
6. Whisk the eggs, yolks, cream, Cheddar and cream cheese in a jug, season.
7. Spread the shallots on the base of the pastry case.  Pour over the egg mixture.  Arrange the broccoli florets over the egg mixture.  Bake for approximately 20 minutes until just set.
8. Remove from the oven and cool.  Best eaten whilst warm.


13 Mar 2013

Patchi Chocolates - Review

Chocolate Jewels
I enjoy receiving emails asking if I would like to showcase chocolates on my blog, it would be difficult to refuse.

Patchi Chocolates is a name I haven't come across before but apparently Patchi was founded in Beirut, Lebanon by Mr Nizar Choucair in 1974.  They were first introduced to the UK in 2002.

Patchi created a bespoke selection of chocolates based on my preferences and taste.
I received a selection of the following:  Milk Chocolate  -  Strawberry Cheesecake, Amandine, Praline, Apricot & Pistachio.  Dark Chocolate - Rocher Hazelnut, Noblesse 72% cocoa.                

There are many, many chocolate flavours to choose from and my selection included delectable sugared almonds, toasted hazelnuts, smooth praline, a pistachio surrounded with apricot, a very creamy strawberry layered cheesecake and a smooth 72% cocoa dark chocolate bar which gives a good firm snap.

The outer chocolate coating varies in thickness and the milk chocolate isn't too sweet.  A range of no sugar added chocolates are also available.

Tastefully gift wrapped with matching ribbon.
Patchi created the world's most expensive 49-piece chocolate box in 2008 for Harrods.  It was valued at £5000 and featured chocolates hand wrapped in Indian Silk and studded with Swarovski crystals. In 2012 they adorned the reception foyer of The Dorchester hotel with ornate Easter Bunnies and exquisitely wrapped chocolate eggs for guests to sample!

The Patchi website is wonderful, sit back and enjoy!

Here in the UK the chocolates are sold exclusively in Harrods.

Thank you for the review chocolates.

11 Mar 2013

World Baking Day 2013 - Chocolate Heart Cake: Recipe

Chocolate Heart Cake
I have been asked to take part in World Baking Day which is sponsored by Stork, and to also be an ambassador for this wonderful annual event.  World Baking Day is on Sunday 19th May, 2013 - they are asking us all to bake for fun, bake with friends and Bake Brave, so let's all join together and bake a cake.

I have had a passion for cake ever since I was a child - baking cakes is a fun activity and has always been high on my list of things I most enjoy, and best of all you get to eat a piece of the cake you have baked.

I never like my everyday cakes to look as though they have come off a production line and I like my cake to look homemade.  I haven't spent hours and hours making the perfect bake but I've had a fun afternoon and I get to eat a wonderful slice of cake made in my own kitchen - it simply can't be beaten.

I think some people are put off baking cakes because they believe you need lots of fancy baking equipment, but you only need a bowl, a baking tin and a set of kitchen scales. Try using your hands to mix the cake batter, this method produces fabulous cakes and is fun and messy too, so trust me you don't even need to own a wooden spoon.

You will need:  2 x 18cm round shallow cake tins greased, base lined and coat the tins with a fine dusting of cocoa powder.

175g Stork tub
175g caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs

Filling: Unsweetened apricot jam
Icing: 50g dark chocolate, 15g Stork packet, 2 tablespoons milk
Chocolate Hearts:  Good quality white cooking chocolate.
Decoration: Edible gold leaf and edible gold glitter.

1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC.
2. Place the Stork, caster sugar and eggs into a mixing bowl.  Sift over the self-raising flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.  With an electric mixer beat everything together for 2 minutes or until smooth.
3. Divide the mixture equally between the two cake tins and spread out evenly.
4. Bake for 30 minutes.
5. Cool for 10 minutes before turning out on to a cooling tray.
6. Icing: Place all the icing ingredients into a bowl and place over a pan of barely simmering water.  Stir until melted and smooth.  Cool and spread over the top of the cake. This produces a matt icing.
7. Chocolate Hearts:  Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Place 75g broken chocolate into a bowl, place over a pan of simmering water.  Allow the chocolate to melt without stirring.  When the chocolate has melted stir until smooth.  Place heaped teaspoons of melted chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread to make circles.  Place in the fridge to set. When set take a small heart cutter and cut out heart shapes. Dab a small amount of leftover melted chocolate to the underside of the hearts and place onto the cake.
8. Decorate with gold leaf and edible glitter.

Thank you to Stork for the fabulous baking set.

10 Mar 2013

Microplane Elite Grater - Review

The Microplane Elite Extra Coarse -  grates cheese, ginger, garlic, courgettes or carrots 
Microplane graters are superb, they grate effortlessly and always stay sharp. It has a handy clip on grater protector for safe storage and doubles as a grating catcher and measuring cup.

Cleverly designed so that when you are using the grater it won't slip out of your hand and also the base of the grater is non-slip, there is nothing worse than using a grater which moves around the chopping board whilst you are using it.



Available in four stylish colours - purple, green, red and black. There is also a choice of different blades - fine, extra coarse and ribbon.

SRP £19.95 - to locate your nearest stockist visit www.ictc.co.uk

Thank you Pam and ictc.co.uk for the review sample.

8 Mar 2013

Hotel Chocolat Zebra Beastie Easter Egg - Review

Zebra Beastie Egg and Mini Eggs
Hotel Chocolat have a vast selection of Easter Eggs to choose from and this year they have sent me their very stylish Zebra Beastie Easter Egg to review.  My Beastie Egg is printed with a natural cocoa butter zebra transfer and has a thin chocolate hollow shell. Surrounding the egg are 6 foil wrapped mini eggs each filled with delicious praline and caramel.
Beautiful presentation.
I've eaten a small piece of the large egg and a praline and caramel mini egg, I had to for review purposes, and I'm guessing the remainder will be eaten before Easter......

The egg weighs 190g and retails for £15.

Thank you Hotel Chocolat.

All images courtesy of Hotel Chocolat.

3 Mar 2013

Easy One Pot Chicken: Recipe

All photographs taken with the Nikon D3200
Easy one pot chicken recipes are a delight and this is a favourite of ours. I'm happy to make this instead of the usual Sunday roast because it saves hours of labour.

I try to make good use of natural daylight to take photographs
If hubby is around he guards the food I've placed on the patio table whilst I take photographs, basically he's there on creepy crawlies alert and to make sure the local cat doesn't jump onto the table.

The chicken was reduced and cost £3.00 from Marks and Spencer - most root vegetables can be used, the prosciutto can be replaced with streaky bacon, but either way the bacon is a must for that salty hit and to be honest the crispy prosciutto is the best part of the dish. This recipe is a winner on both taste and cost.


Occasionally I've found the chicken has cooked through but the vegetables need more cooking time.  If they have been particularly stubborn I place the veg in a casserole dish with some of the juices, cover and pop them in the microwave for a few minutes.

You will need:  Large casserole dish

1.5kg chicken
50g softened butter
4 slices prosciutto
2 onions
2 carrots
1 celery stalk
2 leeks
3 unpeeled potatoes
1 sprig of rosemary
250ml white wine
250ml chicken stock
flat leaf parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.  Place the chicken into a deep casserole dish.  Rub the butter over the chicken, cover with prosciutto slices. Scatter over a few rosemary leaves.
2. Cut the celery into large pieces, peel the carrots and potatoes and chop into chunks, slice the leeks and wash thoroughly.  Scatter the vegetables around the chicken, pour the wine and stock over the vegetables.  Season.  Place the cover on the casserole and place in the oven for an hour.
3. Remove the casserole dish from the oven and give the vegetables a stir round.  Spoon some of the juices over the chicken. Leaving the lid off  place the chicken casserole in the oven for a further 30 minutes to brown the chicken.
4. To serve:  Place the chicken and vegetables onto a serving dish with the broth from the casserole dish and scatter over the parsley.